Malawi: Hrdc Demands Arrest of DPP Cadets for Demos Disruption

Protesters carry signs during a Jane Ansah solidarity march in Blantyre (file photo).
4 September 2019

A high level Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) and Attorney General meeting was nearly thrown into disarray after the rights activists demanded a clause be added in their commitments for peaceful demonstrations to arrest and take to court Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) youth cadets who disrupt the protests.

Deputy IG Nyondo speaking during the meeting Mtambo far right semvereka 2(R), Khwima Uchizi 3(R).

HRDC officials, at the meeting which was held in the absence of the Attorney General Kalekeni Kaphale but attended by top police officers and officials from the Attorney General offices, showed displeasure after noting that this clause was not included in the commitment paper.

The meeting went on after assurances that anyone caught disrupting the peaceful demonstrations would be arrested and be brought before the court.

Khwima Chizi, lawyer representing HRDC said he was impressed with the progress on the talks.

"We have made progress. The talks have gone the way we had wanted," said Chizi.

He said the court will now endorse what had been agreed during the meeting for peaceful demonstrations.

"We will drop an intent order on how the demos should be conducted. The intent order would be binding and all parties shall abide by the order," he said.

Deputy Inspector General of police, John Nyondo, told HRDC officials to ensure that protesters are unarmed, marshals should be deployed with their numbers and identies known for planning purposes, there should be transport ready for protesters after the demos and the media should stop live covered of the protests.

However, some of the issues the HRDC opposed to include; the police should train marshals, police to have personal details of the marshals, HRDC to provide transport to protesters after demonstrations and party leaders not to be given platform to talk to protesters.

The rights defenders also asked Attorney General to advise Malawi Broadcasting Corporation to stop hate programmes within or after demonstrations, saying the propaganda on MBC fuels anger amongst protesters.

HRDC also said there is need for the AG office to advise City councils to stop playing politics with issues to do with demonstrations.

"For example the behavior of Blantyre City Council leaves a lot to be desired at one time they told us that they will not allow demonstrations in Blantyre because all roads will be busy with other business, that was not fair to Malawians," said HRDC Chair Timothy Mtambo.

On the other hand, government demanded that HRDC should respect and uphold Section 38 of the Constitution which talks about peaceful demonstrations.

Government further demanded that HRDC should be addressing the protesters and advise them against violence during demonstrations.

The two sides have agreed on a set of dos and don'ts during future demonstrations to avert violence, looting and destruction of property.

Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal issued a 14-day moratorium against the HRDC from holding any demonstrations in Malawi.

The decision by Justice Lovemore Chikopa followed an appeal by Attorney General against the HRDC after High Court Judge Kenyatta Nyirenda refused to grant the AG an injunction against the protests.

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